You’re the buzz in my pocket. You’re the errant LinkedIn request. You’re the little red push notification. You’re the embodied entirety of Twitter. You’re the thing that breaks my flowstate. The blimp on the map that throws me off the journey.
I hate what you are. Worse, I hate what you’ve made me become. I can’t resist you. I’ve allowed you into my life for so long that my brain is wired to crave you. You’ve physically altered me, one *BZZZZZ* at a time. You are a cute little attention tapeworm that is killing me slowly. You divert my attention away from what I want to be doing and shove my face into an ever-updated shiny object of perpetual distraction.
Noise — I recognize deep down that it is not your fault. You are just following orders. You do indeed have a designer, a God of Noise that has brought you into this world. That God is an SF-based product manager with a flannel mustache and one sole mission: to pluck out my eyeballs and trap them in a fancy mason jar on his Herman Miller desk. Your designer does not want my life to be good. He wants to sharecrop my attention, and he is going to use every magic trick he has to ensure he gets it.
For years I didn’t realize you were such a problem. I thought you were helping me connect and engage in the world in an all new way. But now I know that you are a big black spot that’s holding me back from really living.
Right now, the average time to distraction across our population is seven minutes. And we as humans have you, The Noise, to blame. You bring out the worst in us, you make us weak, unfocused, and trivial. Did you know that it takes us about 15 minutes of deep thought before we can really immerse ourselves into a problem? How do you expect us to create anything great if you break our concentration every seven minutes?
Dear Noise — you’re existence essentially ensures that most humans will never produce a real breakthrough or insight of any substance. You are relegating the burden of human progress to the outskirts of society. To the weirdos who don’t carry smartphones, who reject social networks, and who escape you at every possible turn.
For the last six months I’ve done my best to join the ranks of these ostracized psychopaths. I’ve deleted Facebook & Instagram, blocked out ads and feeds, and turned off push notifications. I’ve done my best to bury you. But still I cannot consistently outrun you. Noise, you continue to insidiously penetrate my existence. The Signal of what I want to do in life is often invisible against the background radiation of your insipid social graph.
But Noise — let me be loud and clear. I will break out of your cage. I’m at war with you, and plan to either win or die. My attention and my time are all that I have, you are not permitted to leech my most precious resources from me forever.
Noise, consider yourself on notice. And if your designer happens to find this letter, I have a final word of advice for him as well:
Dear designer of attention based systems, you have a choice. On one hand, you can keep vampirically draining humanity’s willpower under the guise of capitalism. Or, you could use your unique talents to vaporize this vast fog of Noise that clogs the arteries of the human superorganism. You could design systems that maximize focus, prolong linear thought, and make us more capable of dedicating attention to hard problems. Heck, maybe you could even….
….sorry, just read the most hilarious Buzzfeed article. What was I saying?
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